Deborah Van Valkenburgh

Deborah Van Valkenburgh

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Deborah Van Valkenburgh and Lydia Cornell - Deborah Van Valkenburgh & Lydia Cornell Burbank, California - at the Hollywood Collector's Show Saturday 18th July 2009

Deborah Van Valkenburgh and Lydia Cornell
Deborah Van Valkenburgh and Lydia Cornell

The Devil's Rejects Review


Excellent
House of 1000 Corpses, the last song on Rob Zombie's 2001 album The Sinister Urge, also served as the title track to the metal frontman-turned-filmmaker's 2003 directorial debut, but the cut's country twang-inflected ghoulishness would have made a more apt musical accompaniment for Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Less a sequel than a spiritual follow-up, the director's latest revisits House's serial-killing Firefly clan as they're cast into the backwater dustbowls of rural America by a sheriff (William Forsythe) intent on exacting vigilante revenge for the murder of his brother. A gritty Western-via-grindhouse modern exploitation flick imbued with the ferocity of independent '70s horror, Zombie's splatterfest wisely alters virtually everything (narratively, stylistically, thematically) that characterized his campy, cartoonish and awkward first film. And from its coarse, graphic visual aesthetic, profusion of classic Southern rock tunes, and portrait of unrepentant mayhem, his film reverentially exults in the deranged spirit and impulsive, unpredictable energy of seminal genre masterpieces The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

The Devil's Rejects diverges from its predecessor beginning with its opening frames, in which the depiction of the Firefly residence - no longer a remote, forest-shrouded funhouse of horrors but, rather, a dilapidated structure situated in a stretch of open land - speaks to the film's rejection of atmospheric claustrophobia in favor of wide-open anarchy. A fascination with rampant disorder certainly fuels the tour de force intro sequence, a bullet-strewn siege on the Firefly home by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) and an army of police officers heightened by Zombie's sly use of freeze frames, Sergio Leone-esque close-ups, and The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." Exhibiting a directorial maturity devoid of his former MTV-ish gimmickry (no hyper-edited montages with varying film stocks or bludgeoning industrial heavy metal here), the director orchestrates the chaotic events with feverish abandon, his shaky handheld camera set-ups and scraggly, sun-bleached cinematography (courtesy of Phil Parmet) placing us directly inside the carnage. By the time murderous siblings Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape their now overrun home to seek shelter in the rotting, blindingly white desert, Zombie has demonstrated a newfound adeptness at lacing nasty action with a breakneck thrust and vicious wit.

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Streets Of Fire Review


Weak
A bizarre take on West Side Story, Streets of Fire gives us Paré and Lane as the beast and the beauty in the music scene of "another time, another place" -- a time that manages to muddle the hair styles, attire, and vehicles of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s. Needless to say, it's an ugly time, an ugly place. The "rock-and-roll fable" of Streets of Fire doesn't have much to say, culminating in a pick-axe fight between Paré and bad-boy Dafoe, which I think says just about all you need to know.

Rampage Review


Good
Very loosely based on a true story, Rampage follows the trial of one Charlie Reece who went on a murder spree in central California and pled insanity. Writer/director is clearly disgusted with the idea that an insanity defense can get a cold-blooded killer off, but the shortcuts and inaccuracies he takes in portraying the legal system injure his cause critically. Not a bad flick, and McArthur's Reece is quite chilling, but overall it's only so-so.
Deborah Van Valkenburgh

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